skip to main content
OSTI.GOV title logo U.S. Department of Energy
Office of Scientific and Technical Information

Title: DOE Final Report on Collaborative Research. Quantifying Climate Feedbacks of the Terrestrial Biosphere under Thawing Permafrost Conditions in the Arctic

Abstract

Our overall goal is to quantify the potential for threshold changes in natural emission rates of trace gases, particularly methane and carbon dioxide, from pan-arctic terrestrial systems under the spectrum of anthropogenically-forced climate warming, and the conditions under which these emissions provide a strong feedback mechanism to global climate warming. This goal is motivated under the premise that polar amplification of global climate warming will induce widespread thaw and degradation of the permafrost, and would thus cause substantial changes to the landscape of wetlands and lakes, especially thermokarst (thaw) lakes, across the Arctic. Through a suite of numerical experiments that encapsulate the fundamental processes governing methane emissions and carbon exchanges – as well as their coupling to the global climate system - we intend to test the following hypothesis in the proposed research: There exists a climate warming threshold beyond which permafrost degradation becomes widespread and stimulates large increases in methane emissions (via thermokarst lakes and poorly-drained wetland areas upon thawing permafrost along with microbial metabolic responses to higher temperatures) and increases in carbon dioxide emissions from well-drained areas. Besides changes in biogeochemistry, this threshold will also influence global energy dynamics through effects on surface albedo, evapotranspiration and water vapor.more » These changes would outweigh any increased uptake of carbon (e.g. from peatlands and higher plant photosynthesis) and would result in a strong, positive feedback to global climate warming.« less

Authors:
 [1];  [2];  [3];  [4];  [3];  [2]
  1. Purdue Univ., West Lafayette, IN (United States)
  2. Massachusetts Inst. of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, MA (United States)
  3. Marine Biological Lab. (MBL), Woods Hole, MA (United States)
  4. Univ. of Alaska, Fairbanks, AK (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Purdue Univ., West Lafayette, IN (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Biological and Environmental Research (BER) (SC-23)
OSTI Identifier:
1224739
Report Number(s):
DOE-Purdue-SC0007007-1
DOE Contract Number:  
SC0007007
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; Permafrost; climate; methane; carbon; earth system model; biogeochemistry

Citation Formats

Zhuang, Qianlai, Schlosser, C. Adam, Melillo, Jerry M., Anthony, Katey Walter, Kicklighter, David, and Gao, Xiang. DOE Final Report on Collaborative Research. Quantifying Climate Feedbacks of the Terrestrial Biosphere under Thawing Permafrost Conditions in the Arctic. United States: N. p., 2015. Web. doi:10.2172/1224739.
Zhuang, Qianlai, Schlosser, C. Adam, Melillo, Jerry M., Anthony, Katey Walter, Kicklighter, David, & Gao, Xiang. DOE Final Report on Collaborative Research. Quantifying Climate Feedbacks of the Terrestrial Biosphere under Thawing Permafrost Conditions in the Arctic. United States. doi:10.2172/1224739.
Zhuang, Qianlai, Schlosser, C. Adam, Melillo, Jerry M., Anthony, Katey Walter, Kicklighter, David, and Gao, Xiang. Tue . "DOE Final Report on Collaborative Research. Quantifying Climate Feedbacks of the Terrestrial Biosphere under Thawing Permafrost Conditions in the Arctic". United States. doi:10.2172/1224739. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1224739.
@article{osti_1224739,
title = {DOE Final Report on Collaborative Research. Quantifying Climate Feedbacks of the Terrestrial Biosphere under Thawing Permafrost Conditions in the Arctic},
author = {Zhuang, Qianlai and Schlosser, C. Adam and Melillo, Jerry M. and Anthony, Katey Walter and Kicklighter, David and Gao, Xiang},
abstractNote = {Our overall goal is to quantify the potential for threshold changes in natural emission rates of trace gases, particularly methane and carbon dioxide, from pan-arctic terrestrial systems under the spectrum of anthropogenically-forced climate warming, and the conditions under which these emissions provide a strong feedback mechanism to global climate warming. This goal is motivated under the premise that polar amplification of global climate warming will induce widespread thaw and degradation of the permafrost, and would thus cause substantial changes to the landscape of wetlands and lakes, especially thermokarst (thaw) lakes, across the Arctic. Through a suite of numerical experiments that encapsulate the fundamental processes governing methane emissions and carbon exchanges – as well as their coupling to the global climate system - we intend to test the following hypothesis in the proposed research: There exists a climate warming threshold beyond which permafrost degradation becomes widespread and stimulates large increases in methane emissions (via thermokarst lakes and poorly-drained wetland areas upon thawing permafrost along with microbial metabolic responses to higher temperatures) and increases in carbon dioxide emissions from well-drained areas. Besides changes in biogeochemistry, this threshold will also influence global energy dynamics through effects on surface albedo, evapotranspiration and water vapor. These changes would outweigh any increased uptake of carbon (e.g. from peatlands and higher plant photosynthesis) and would result in a strong, positive feedback to global climate warming.},
doi = {10.2172/1224739},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {2015},
month = {11}
}

Works referenced in this record:

The impacts of recent permafrost thaw on land–atmosphere greenhouse gas exchange
journal, April 2014

  • Hayes, Daniel J.; Kicklighter, David W.; McGuire, A. David
  • Environmental Research Letters, Vol. 9, Issue 4
  • DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/9/4/045005

Potential influence of climate-induced vegetation shifts on future land use and associated land carbon fluxes in Northern Eurasia
journal, March 2014


Insights and issues with simulating terrestrial DOC loading of Arctic river networks
journal, December 2013

  • Kicklighter, David W.; Hayes, Daniel J.; McClelland, James W.
  • Ecological Applications, Vol. 23, Issue 8
  • DOI: 10.1890/11-1050.1

Contrasting soil thermal responses to fire in Alaskan tundra and boreal forest: Contrasting soil thermal responses
journal, February 2015

  • Jiang, Yueyang; Rocha, Adrian V.; O'Donnell, Jonathan A.
  • Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface, Vol. 120, Issue 2
  • DOI: 10.1002/2014JF003180

Arctic lakes are continuous methane sources to the atmosphere under warming conditions
journal, May 2015


Response of evapotranspiration and water availability to the changing climate in Northern Eurasia
journal, August 2014